Most modern chimneys involve the use of pre-fabricated assemblies. While these assemblies are safe, less expensive, and perform well, improper installation can lead to a whole range of issues.

Regular fireplace and chimney inspections are essential, not only for correct functioning but also to ensure your assembly is safe to use. Even well-installed fireplaces can develop problems, and if neglected, these small issues can lead to expensive and time-consuming repairs. Make sure your Bethesda, MD fireplace is safe by scheduling an inspection today.

Visible Parts of the Flue and Chase

Most inspections start with the visible part of the fireplace and chimney. It can be extremely difficult to visually examine the inside of a flue or the inside of the structural wooden frame around the fireplace. Instead, most inspectors will look at the visible parts, such as the exterior of the wooden chase, the metal cap, and the exposed tops of the flue.

The most critical part of fireplace and chimney inspections is examining the top of the metal chimney. Looking here will give our Bethesda chimney inspectors a good idea of whether the metal flue and metal cap are correctly installed and if they’re providing adequate protection to the structure. Improperly installed caps can result in severe damage to both the wooden chase and the chimney itself.

Evidence of a Well-Constructed Flue

When looking at a metal flue in a wood-framed chase, the major factors to keep in mind include:

  • Identifying the metal flue by its unique flue cap and metal cap over the wooden chase
  • Checking to see that the cap over the chase is sealed, with two raised crimps from corner to corner, and has a drip edge that extends over the side of the chimney and overhangs the chase
  • Looking for the presence of a storm collar around the metal flue to deflect water from outside the metal cap
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Typical Problems

Several tell-tale signs can indicate poor installation of a metal chimney in a wooden chase. These defects often allow water into the fireplace, which causes significant damage to the fireplace, flue, and the surrounding assembly.

Bad Metal Cap

A good metal cap will have raised crimps, slopes, and overhang to direct water away from the chimney or chase construction. A bad metal cap will:

  • Have no slope
  • Offer no clearance to the chase
  • Lack of storm collar

Metal caps with no slope will accumulate water, which can lead to rust development. Rust can weaken the structure and lead to more water damage and even bigger problems in the future.

Ineffective Repairs

Poor repairs can lead to more issues than they solve. Some contractors will use sealants to secure the metal cap to the flue, which may work for a while but will eventually start to leak. Our Bethesda, MD inspectors will perform a thorough inspection to pick up issues like these and address them properly.


Efflorescence, or white stains on chimney bricks, is a sure indicator of water damage. Efflorescence is a direct result of mold growth, which occurs in damp and warm conditions. Not only is efflorescence an indicator of a moisture problem, but the mold itself eats through cement and brick, causing significant structural issues.

Levels of Inspection

When conducting fireplace and chimney inspections, our Bethesda inspectors divide their work into three different levels, depending on the client’s particular needs. These include:

  • Level 1: A relatively basic inspection that looks at the exterior of the chimney. These are good enough for well-maintained chimneys that haven’t experienced any recent damage.
  • Level 2: This type of inspection involves using a video camera to inspect the inside of the flue. These types of inspection are often required when client want to make a change to their existing system.
  • Level 3: Only used in the most extreme cases, a Level 3 inspection may involve demolition to get to the root of a particular problem.

Contact Alban Inspections Today

With over 25,000 inspections under our belt, Alban Inspections works hard to give our customers the peace of mind they deserve. To ensure your Bethesda, MD fireplace and chimney are optimized for functionality and safety, call the professional inspectors at Alban Inspections today at (301) 679-3573.